Chapel renovations push daily masses into Theater Loge

With Chapel renovations under way, Saint Louis U. High’s daily Mass has sought sanctuary in the Theater Loge, allowing for the continuation of the morning Masses so important to many in the community. 

Makeshift chapel in the Theater Loge. Photo I Alex Brinkman

SLUH’s daily Mass has long been a way for students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff to start their day celebrating their faith. 

“It's just a way for me to be fed, and nurtured and restored,” said theology teacher Robert Garavaglia. Early in the school year, Campus Ministers began to look for a solution to an inevitable problem with the new chapel renovations: they would start during the school year, and SLUH’s daily Mass would have to find a new location. 

“Because of the construction and the updates that are much needed in the Chapel, we looked at the next best space to hold daily Masses and smaller gatherings that could still happen in a chapel-like space,” said Campus Minister Julie Lewis.

The team quickly landed on the Theater Loge as the best option for daily Mass to continue.  Being a large space that isn’t constantly filled with classes, clubs, and events like most spaces at SLUH, it seemed to be the best fit. 

Still, certain groups have had to relocate because of the decision.When not in use during a theater production, the Robotics Club runs tests in the space and Improv meets there for each class. With the movement of daily Mass, these groups have had to find new locations. 

Although this may seem like a setback, improv teacher Kevin McKernan believes it’s within the spirit of his class.

 “The improv class is probably the best class to move,” said McKernan. “We like to believe that anything is possible and we're constantly adapting to everything that is around us anyway.”

Improv, a class with an already smaller attendance than usual this semester, was moved to the stage once production of Godspell ended. The move has been mostly problem free for the class, though the new space still needs some getting used to. 

Communicating the move to the SLUH community also became a mild concern. Campus Ministry is able to communicate to students, teachers, faculty and staff through all school emails and the weekly ParentConnects, but there was anxiety that many alumni wouldn’t get the update. Because alumni are not featured on the ParentConnect and SLUH’s graduate population is so large, it becomes hard to contact so many about an update of this size happening. In practice, however, it doesn’t seem to be as large a problem as expected. 

“Although I’m not totally sure how, they seem to have found their way,” laughed Director of Campus Ministry Matthew Stewart, SJ.

The transition itself went over very smoothly. A group came in on Saturday to move furniture and decorate the new room. Because this will be the Loge’s only purpose while renovations on the Chapel continue, the space will luckily not need to be constantly assembled and disassembled. 

“Me, Mr. (Justin) Kelley, a crew of work grant students and a few others moved a bunch of items from the chapel into the loge and then arranged everything. It was about a three hour project and went very smoothly,” said Campus Minister Brian Gilmore.

The transition did have a silver lining in that it provided the opportunity for some much-needed reorganization of the original chapel’s sacristy. Old garments, books, and all sorts of religious paraphernalia were removed while the entire room got a much-needed clean. Beside a few hiccups, like lights that take 15 minutes to turn on, or the possible fire hazard of using a real flame in the Sanctuary Lamp, the transition has gone very smoothly. Daily Mass has continued to be a place for students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff to celebrate their faith before the start of the day. 

“Our Mass culture here is really important to a lot of people, and so seeing people come to the loge for Mass has been consoling and edifying,” concluded Stewart. “People are saying, ‘We want to find it. We want to go. We want to be there.’ It's an impressive and inspiring thing that Mass is so important to people that they're going to come no matter where it is.”


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